Kip Hanrahan | Painting by Ritchard Rodriguez
A producer, a composer, a percussionist and facilitator, Kip Hanrahan has an uncanny ability to assemble remarkable musicians and apply their talents in interesting ways. The results are often magical. His records are as enigmatic as he is, and maybe that heightens the attraction and expectation. The results of his American Clavé productions have garnered a cultist reputation, yet a lot of people have heard them or at least of them. He chooses to remain in the shadows, an obscure figure that turns the knobs and brings it all together. Hanrahan’s recorded legacy speaks volumes of his knowledge and abilities to bring out the best of musicians that accompany him on his fantastic sojourns.
Kip Hanrahan started out as a percussionist, a fairly left-field occupation for an Irish-Jewish boy, even if he did grow up in a Puerto Rican neighborhood of the Bronx, New York. “I don’t know where I am in a sense. People tell me that I am a Latin musician. But at the same time, it’s not my music. I grew up with it and through it, and I learned it at the same time as everyone else around me learned it. And I think of Latin music as being my first music. But I’m not a Latin musician. I’m not from that culture.” After gaining a fellowship in sculpture at the Cooper Union Arts, in New York, Kip began collect several musical hats, those of producer, director, writer/arranger and conductor. However, his most apt headgear would be one of ‘facilitator’, for Kip has the knack of being able to connect up people and music together. Kip Hanrahan now has numerous albums to his name. His discography reads like chapters of a book, or betters still, an anthology of short stories, each album reflective of a different phase in his life.
“All Roads Are Made of the Flesh,” (1995) is probably his best known work, a compilation of musical vignettes from Jelly Roll Morton to full on avant-garde. Kip has also produced three albums for the late accordion master Astor Piazzolla, the best known of which is “Tango Zero Hour.” Drawing from a rich vein of rock, jazz and blues influences, as well as the Latin influence of his formative years, he has devised a distinctive meld of music, a dialogue between the two hemispheres of north and south, which is informed by the American Clavé. (The clavé is the internal rhythmic pulse around which all Latin music is based.) Kip works with class. Several of the finest Latin jazz percussionists in the world have toured in his band, notably the Puerto Rican Giovanni Hidalgo, who left Kip to work with Dizzy Gillespie, and his protégé Richie Flores, not to forget Milton Cardona, and Anthony Carillo. There is always a fine supporting cast of Cuban players in a variety of roles and instruments. Hanrahan’s musical associates are far too numerous to list or mention here, but on preferred sessions he worked with bassists Jack Bruce, Andy Gonzalez, and Sting, pianists Don Pullen, John Beasley, Edsel Gomez, and Allen Toussaint, sax man Charles Neville, and trumpet man Brian Lynch. More endeavors have included drummers Robby Ameen, and Horacio ‘El Negro’ Hernandez, along with the usual all star line up of top tier percussionists as Paoli Mejias.
On his “Deep Rumba/A Calm in the Fire of Dances” (2000) project he featured the vocal of Xiomara Lougart, who shines on her selections. Salsa superstar Ruben Blades does a bilingual version version of “Sympathy for the Devil,” on the “Robby and Negro at the Third World War” (2004) recording. He did the soundtrack for the movie “Piñero,” in 2001, and covered the NuyoRican poetry of Piri Thomas in “Every Child is Born A Poet,” released in 2006. One of his latest projects, also in 2006 has been “Conjure: Bad Mouth.” Bottom line for the musical trajectory of Kip Hanrahan is for the adventuresome listener to dive and explore the profound depths. Kip Hanrahan’s worldly and highly artistic approach provides a road map for ongoing success. Most importantly, Hanrahan paints vivid portraits of life, love and reality without becoming self-absorbed or overbearing. Overall, his productions are generally accessible and entertaining while maintaining that perpetual touch of class.” — Glenn Astarita
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An anthology – Double CD-Set of musics (sequences of angers, passions, sexualities made audible and intelligible by music) formed by the labor of Kip Hanrahan, Jack Bruce, Astor Piazzolla, Allen Toussaint, Don Pullen, David Murray, Paul Haines, Milton Cordona, Ishmael Reed, Steve Swallow, Taj Mahal, Sting, Andy Gonzalez, Arto Lindsay, Giovanni Hidalgo, Fernando Saunders, Leo Nocentelli, Pablo Ziegler, Fernando Suarez Paz, Bobby Womack, Robert Wyatt, Alfredo Triff, Peter Scherer, Lester Bowie, John Tchicai, Lucy Penabaz, Puntilla Orlando Rios, Robbie Ameen, George Cartweight, Elysee Pyronneau and others informed by, but irreverent of, expected form; but informed by and not irreverent of passionate cause and intent… 1980 – 1992